The historical changes of Leica

Leitz Industrial Park in weizler, Frankfurt, Germany. The park has Leica headquarters, Ernst Leitz Museum, Leica weizler shop, leiz cafe, etc., which is a holy land for Leica enthusiasts. < / P > < p > it has been nearly 110 years since barnak started making Leica prototypes in 1913-14. < p > < p > in this century, Leica brand has experienced countless ups and downs. The company has changed its owners, and has experienced various management modes, such as origin transfer, cooperation, product splitting, management buy-out, IPO, delisting, capital increase, merger and acquisition. Leica can’t be called Leica since 1974 if we insist on following the original meaning of Leica, leiz’s camera. Because that year, the Leitz family had sold most of the company’s shares to the Swiss precision instrument maker veld helbrugg AG. < p > < p > before the advent of Leica cameras, Leitz’s main business was not the production of cameras. Its predecessor is the Institute of optics founded by Carl Korner. Karl Korner was a mathematical and physical genius born in weizler, a small town in central Germany. At the age of 23, he published a paper entitled “and used his invention to produce astronomical telescope”. After a while, colner, who had a keen sense of the market, realized that the market demand for microscopes would exceed astronomical telescopes, so he decided to develop and sell microscopes. Korner is not only proficient in optical theory, but also has a unique understanding of the processing technology of optical lenses. Unfortunately, he died of tuberculosis when he was 29 years old. If he had not died so early, there would have been no Leica today. After colner’s death, his partner, bertler, took over the Institute of optics. This man had little talent in business, but he recruited a highly talented machinist for the Academy of optics, Ernst Leitz I. Ernst Leitz became a partner one year after he joined the company and became the sole shareholder of the company after bateler’s death in 1869. He renamed the company Ernst Leitz Institute of optics. Leitz Ernst has made great efforts to build the brand of Leicester. The 50000 microscope produced in 1899 was sent to the tuberculosis Institute in Davos. This kind of special serial number products presented to well-known people or institutions of marketing means has been used by Leica today. Leitz I was in charge of the operation of the company before his retirement. His two sons were naturally trained as engineers. After graduation, Leitz went to work in the Ernst Leitz Institute of optics to continue the family business. In 1911, Leitz recruited a young mechanic named Osaka barnak from Zeiss and asked him to develop tools for grinding lenses. < p > < p > < p > barnak, who was bent on making a small camera, did nothing to make a Leica prototype. And convinced Ernst Leitz II to produce this kind of small side axis camera, so in 1924, mass production Leica camera came out. < / P > < p > in the early Leica I series cameras, Ernst Leitz weitzlar was engraved on the base of the shutter selector. Since the kangban Leica is an inter lens shutter, Leitz weitzlar has become a hexagonal mark, which is arranged between the return button and the viewfinder. In 1930, the company was restructured and renamed as weizlar Ernst Leitz Co., Ltd. < / P > < p > starting with the Leica II screw mouth camera, on the left side of the set-top, the handwritten Leica is added. Below the Leica, there are three lines of lettering: Ernst Leitz Wetzlar d.r.p. The words “Germany” and “GmbH” were added to the III model, and the English “Germany” was added to the lettering on the top of the machine, indicating that Leica had already paid attention to the international market except Germany. < / P > < p > in the minds of Leica users and collectors, weizlar’s Leitz and Leica are absolutely inseparable, just like two sides of a coin. It is one of the most classic and successful cases in business operation that Leitz is deeply embedded in the hearts of Leica users, whether intentionally or unintentionally. As a result, when Leitz’s words no longer appeared on the camera, most Leica users and collectors who were loyal to Leitz could not accept it. < p > < p > in this way, leiz and Leica have been inseparable for 50 years. During this period, Laiz set up branches and factories in Canada and Portugal, trying to cooperate with Minolta to reduce product costs, but they failed to prevent the company’s economic situation from deteriorating. It is said that Leicester sold a leicaflex SL2 or Leica M5 at that time, it would cost 1000 marks upside down. In the 1970s, Japanese SLR cameras not only had an unparalleled advantage over Leica in price, but also had better performance parameters, which took many market shares of Leica. Many Leica fans worry that the brand leiz / Leica will disappear or be acquired by Japanese companies. < p > < p > Leitz is also in urgent need of investment and technological upgrading, so there is the scene at the beginning of this article. The Leitz family sold most of the company’s shares to the Swiss precision instrument manufacturer Verde helbrugg AG. < p > < p > since then, weld began to dominate the Leica camera business. Leitz III withdrew from the company’s management, leaving only his nephew, Knut Ernst Kuhn Leitz, to supervise the rest of the equity on behalf of the Leitz family. < p > < p > at the end of 1986, the Leitz family transferred all the remaining minority shares to the company. If you count from Ernst Leitz I, who became a partner in 1866, the dynasty that the Leitz family ruled and participated in the business of the company for 121 years ended. < / P > < p > in 1987, the weld Leitz holding company was established to continue the business of Willd helbrug and Leitz. The new holding company decided to continue to operate profitable products such as microscopes, medical diagnostic instruments, industrial measuring instruments, surveying and mapping instruments, etc. < / P > < p > and stripped Leitz’s unprofitable “photo business” from the company and put it into the newly registered Leica Co., Ltd. The R & D, production, operation and sales of Leica Co., Ltd. should exist independently. As a result, Leica Co., Ltd. and its office and plant moved to Solms, a small town near weitzlar, in 1988, and the plant officially began to use on June 10. < / P > < p > the famous Leica R series mechanical camera R6 was produced in the new plant in Solms. The Leica M6 camera and M-series lens, which were previously produced in weitzlar, are now all moved to the workshop of Solms. In 1990, the parent company merged with Cambridge instruments to become Leica Holdings Limited. < / P > < p > the company’s management has taken a fancy to the value of Leica brand and decided that Leica will be used in all the company’s products, not just cameras. < / P > < p > and Leica limited, which operates the Leica camera business, has to be renamed Leica camera limited again. The decision to use Leica as a brand has resulted in four independent companies: Leica camera, Leica precision instruments, Leica biological instruments and Leica geological instruments, which share the status quo of Leica. In 1996, Leica was successfully listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange after management acquisition. In order to celebrate and commemorate the IPO, the company issued 996 Leica M6 limited edition stock sets. The black fuselage was matched with the sumilux-m 35mm f1.4 ASPH. The set-top was engraved with the pattern of stock certificate, and the leather was full of Leica, which we know well In each machine, in addition to the certificate, there is a 5 mark stock signed by the famous photographer Salgado. < p > < p > in fact, Leica also produced a limited edition of the limited edition, and about a dozen silver M6 of the same type were sold to insiders who had made great efforts for the IPO. The author once saw a set of brand-new silver stock commemorative machine in the second-hand collection market, the price is about three times of “ordinary” commemorative money. < / P > < p > the successful listing raised more than 200 million marks of capital for Leica, which once again ignited the hope of Leica to return to its peak. At first, Leica didn’t let its shareholders down, and the R & D department cooperated with each other to bring forth the new. The company has successively released the series R8 of SLR, digital camera S1, and even acquired the famous mini camera brand Minox. In the mid-1990s, film cameras were undoubtedly the mainstream of photography, and digital cameras began to explore the market. In July 1996, Canon’s first universal digital camera, PowerShot 600, was launched. It uses a 570000 pixel 1 / 3 INCH CCD image sensor. The initial price is about 128000 yen, which is about 9800 yuan according to the exchange rate of that year. < p > < p > in contrast, the configuration of the back of Leica S1 camera released in the same year is too advanced. It looks like a camera with semicircular handles on both sides. It weighs 3.6kg. It uses a square CCD with 26.4m pixels and 36 × 36mm, and its area is 50% larger than the current full frame. < / P > < p > S1 is actually a scanned back, and s comes from the initial letter of the German word sanner. Through the bayonet adapter, you can use Leica M, R bayonet or most mainstream lenses at that time. Because the S1 shooting mode is line by line scanning, it takes 185 seconds to take a picture. < / P > < p > the files of the photos taken are about 76mb, and the maximum dynamic range is 11 gears. It’s also ahead of the curve – the $21500 price, which is said to have produced only 160 units, mostly sold to research institutions and museums. This kind of camera, which is not popular, can’t help Leica regain its power. Leica lost 17 million marks in 1997 / 98 and 13 million marks in 1998 / 99. Leica’s stock fell directly from DM 50 to DM 12. At the end of 2000, Hermes, a French luxury brand, bought a 31.5% stake in Leica at a price about 25% higher than the market price, and increased the stake to 36% in the following years. In August 2004, there was a very humble report in the economic press: Austrian capital management company owned by the Kaufman family acquired 21% of Leica shares and became Leica’s second largest shareholder after Hermes. As a result of herm è s’s equity participation and the high price of Leica cameras, Leica’s image is increasingly deviated from photography tools, and slowly turned to luxury collection. < p > < p > in October 2003, Leica released the Hermes limited edition MP set for the first time, with silver 35mm f2.0 summacron lens, and 500 units were distributed worldwide. The only difference between the limited edition and the regular edition is the leather, priced at $8500. < / P > < p > at that time, the price was at least twice that of the ordinary version with the same lens set. At that time, many senior Leica collectors thought that this set of Leica was not worth collecting, and the leather design was even “gaudy”. In 2009, Leica released another 200 Hermes limited edition M7 sets. < p > < p > Hermes limited edition has not been able to pull off